On a spectral method for forward gravity field modelling

B. C. Root*, P. Novák, D. Dirkx, M. Kaban, W. van der Wal, L. L A Vermeersen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
55 Downloads (Pure)


This article reviews a spectral forward gravity field modelling method that was initially designed for topographic/isostatic mass reduction of gravity data. The method transforms 3D spherical density models into gravitational potential fields using a spherical harmonic representation. The binomial series approximation in the approach, which is crucial for its computational efficiency, is examined and an error analysis is performed. It is shown that, this method cannot be used for density layers in crustal and upper mantle regions, because it results in large errors in the modelled potential field. Here, a correction is proposed to mitigate this erroneous behaviour. The improved method is benchmarked with a tesseroid gravity field modelling method and is shown to be accurate within ±4 mGal for a layer representing the Moho density interface, which is below other errors in gravity field studies. After the proposed adjustment the method can be used for the global gravity modelling of the complete Earth's density structure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-30
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Geodynamics
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Forward gravitational field modelling
  • Global density models
  • Spherical harmonic representation


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